A bit of nostalgia, a bit of hope | Saffet Emre TONGUC

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Their names are not mentioned as much as other islands, but lovers of Burgaz and Kınalıada can never let them down. Hop on a ferry and cruise with the gentle breeze of the Sea of ​​Marmara these days when mimosas set the stage for red buds with wisteria. Lose yourself in the streets of the islands that mix the desire for the past with the hope of spring.

The closest island to Istanbul

You set foot on Kinaliada and the Sirakyan Twin Houses graciously say “Welcome”. You are greeted by these three-storey wooden mansions built in the early 1900s and you are influenced by the architecture which is a marvel of symmetry. The other “hello” comes from the stone pavilion. You start walking admiring the beauty of these two structures. Kınalıada, with an area of ​​1.5 square kilometers, is one of the smallest of the Princes’ Islands and the closest to land. This is exactly why it was used as a place of exile in the past. It takes its name from its reddish soil under the influence of iron and copper mines. During your tour of the island, which you can complete in half an hour, you can choose Çınar Hill 115 meters above sea level, Teşrifiye Hill, 5 meters below, and Manastır Hill, 93 meters away, to enjoy the view. Kınalıada was first settled by Armenians from Istanbul in the early 19th century.

Aya Yani Church

The first ferry service began in 1846. The only Armenian church in the Prince Islands is here; Surp Krikor Highlighter. Its foundation was laid in 1854 and it was opened for worship three years later. The only monastery on the island is the Greek monastery of Christos (Jesus), after which the hill on which it stands is named. One of the most original mosques you will see in Turkey is in Kınalıada. The mosque, which was opened for worship in 1964, does not have an architectural understanding that mimics past structures, but a successful line that befits the times. The story of the marbles that stand in a corner of his garden is interesting. The Karaköy Mosque, a legacy of the Ottoman Empire, was supposed to be dismantled and rebuilt in Kınalıada in the 1950s, but when the ship lay on its side before it could reach the island, all the stones ended up in the waters of Marmara. One of the remains is exhibited in the courtyard, the other was used in the construction of the modern mosque.

‘Pyrgos’ became Burgas

Burgazada, with its pine forests and streets of elegant wooden mansions, ranks third in the list of Princes’ Islands in terms of area. It has been called by different names in the past. It was called Antigoni for a time, Panormos meaning “safe harbor” for a time. Its name before the Ottoman conquest was Pyrgos, which means “castle, bastion” in Greek. We did Burgas. “The castle is a small square castle on the steep rocks by the sea. The island is 10 miles wide and very productive. There are about 300 houses with gardens and fresh water wells. Its inhabitants are Greeks. There are thriving churches. Goats and rabbits abound. Vines in the mountains don’t count. Its inhabitants are wealthy sailors.

This is how Evliya Çelebi described Burgazada in her famous “Travel Diary”. To see the most beautiful houses on the island, walk the streets of Gezinin, Volunteer and Mehtap. Visit its 600-year-old plane tree and say hello to the power of nature. The most important historical building on the island is the Aya Yani Church, which was built in the first half of the 800s. It was built by Saint Methodius, who was exiled to the island, unfortunately it is not could not maintain its original state and was repaired several times. One of the two structures that survived the 19th century is the Greek Orthodox church Hagia Yorgi Garipi, which was damaged in the 1999 earthquake and repaired in 2005, and the other is the impressive Metamorfoz Monastery. by his meticulous work. It must be because of the inspiring beauty of the Princes’ Islands that they engaged in literature… It is impossible to remember Büyükada without Reşat Nuri Güntekin, Heybeli without Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar and Burgaz without Sait Faik Abasıyanık. Sait Faik, whose title is “The Islander”, lived for years in his family’s Spanudis mansion. While only staying here in the summer, he began to spend more time on the island when he was diagnosed with cirrhosis in 1945. The mansion, where he lived until his death in 1954, belongs to the Darrüşafaka company and is open to visitors as a museum.

imperial exiles

Behind the name of the Princes’ Islands, which sounds very romantic, hide in reality painful stories of exile. These islands were where countless people, from princes to priests, court nobles to rulers, were blinded and sent to. They are also known as Monk Islands, Spirit Islands, Cin Islands. The most famous of those exiled to Kınalıada is Romanos Diogenes, who was punished by shooting himself in the eye on the island where Alparslan was defeated in 1071 at Manzikert and sent.

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